Jos Buttler struck a solid century as Rajasthan Royals sealed a six-wicket win against Royal Challengers Bengaluru in the 2024 Indian Premier League on Saturday in Jaipur.

The win in their first home match of the season means that the Royals have won each of their four opening matches of the season while Bengaluru have won only one of their five games.

It was a battle of the batters with Rajasthan captain Sanju Samson deciding to bowl first after winning the toss. The visitors finished their innings with a score of 183/3, and the Royals chased it down to score 189/4 with five balls to spare.

In the first innings, Virat Kohli and Faf du Plessis took advantage of the relatively placid pitch in Jaipur and put on an opening partnership of 125.

Kohli reached his half-century in 39 balls with Bengaluru at 53/0 after the first six overs. However, as the pitch started to get stuck in a little bit for the slower balls, the scoring rate of the visitors also started to drop. Rajasthan would get their first breakthrough with du Plessis being caught by Buttler in the deep off Yuzvendra Chahal at the end of the 14th over.

Nandre Burger also helped matters with the wicket of Glenn Maxwell for one as Kohli continued his charge. The Indian batter would finish with an unbeaten 113 off 72 balls, his eighth century in the tournament.

The chase began in a horrid fashion for Rajasthan who lost struggling Yashavi Jaiswal in the second ball of the innings. But then Samson and Buttler came together, much like Kohli and du Plessis, only in a more fluent fashion.

Samson reached his half-century in 30 balls while Buttler reached the 50-run landmark in 33 balls. While the partnership of 148 runs was broken courtesy a Mohammed Siraj delivery, Buttler was on hand to steady the ship with 36 needed off 32 balls. Riyan Parag and Dhruv Jurel were also dismissed cheaply, but the English batter finished things off with a six to seal the deal and reach his century.

Turning point of the match

The first sign of spin being the answer in curtailing the scoring was when Samson brought on Ravichandran Ashwin in the fifth over. The veteran spinner conceded only three runs compared to when Kohli and du Plessis had earlier hit Burger and Trent Boult for 42 runs.

After two overs of Ashwin where he conceded 10 runs, Chahal was brought on. This only slowed things down further for the Bengaluru batters who were unable to truly negotiate the Rajasthan spin twins, also hindered by the pitch slowing down oddly in patches.

Chahal and Ashwin conceded one boundary, two sixes and two wides in the eight overs between them. The fast bowlers in Boult, Burger and Avesh Khan were hit for 13 boundaries, three sixes and three wides between their 11 overs. Boult, the star of the win against Mumbai Indians didn’t get to complete his quota of four overs.

The difference that Chahal and Ashwin made was seen with how impact substitute Himanshu Sharma and Mayank Dagar, Bengaluru’s spinners, were hit all over the ground by Samson and Buttler during their innings.

The Field’s Player of the match

Buttler has been splendid for Rajasthan since they bought him back in 2018. He’s been a reliable opening batter for the side, helping to set the foundation for a strong line-up that follows him.

However, the 2022 Orange Cap (leading run scorer) winner hasn’t been able to fire in the previous three games in the 2024 season so far.

But against a weaker bowling attack in Bengaluru and assisted by a pitch that helped batters to time the ball well, Buttler was in fine form. His unbeaten 100 off 58 balls makes him The Field’s Player of the match.

Kumar Sangakkara, a fine batter in his day and now the coach of the Rajasthan side, described the Buttler-Samson partnership as ‘clinical’. But he also reiterated that while a conversation is certainly required when it comes to helping a player get back into form, what Buttler needed to do was “sit back and ignore the noise” – the noise here referring to his critics.

On Saturday night, with one run needed for the win and with Buttler on 94, as he struck that six that just managed to cross the boundary, Buttler leapt into the air and celebrated with a definite sigh of relief – the magic was back.

‘Just a matter of time with Jos’

Along with his coach, Buttler’s captain Samson was equally complimentary of the English batter’s efforts, saying that all Buttler needed to do was stick it out through the powerplay and then time the ball well enough.

In the post-match presentation ceremony, Buttler himself mentioned that the “anxieties and stresses” don’t go away despite having played the sport for a long time.

“It was a bit of luck to get it [the six] over the rope in the end, but I’m delighted to get the win. No matter how long you’ve played the game, you still have those anxieties and stresses. I had a really good tournament in South Africa [at the SA20 with Paarl Royals] so I felt like I needed one good innings to get going. I did feel very good in the last game [against Mumbai Indians] although I got out for 13. Sometimes you just have to tell yourself that it will be okay and it will end up being okay. Just gotta keep digging in and working hard. We just need to keep this momentum going.”

— Jos Buttler on his match-winning innings at the post-match presentation ceremony

Points table after the match on April 6

Position Team Played Won Lost NRR Points
1 RR 4 4 0 1.120 8
2 KKR 3 3 0 2.518 6
3 CSK 4 2 2 0.517 4
4 LSG 3 2 1 0.483 4
5 SRH 4 2 2 0.409 4
6 PBKS 4 2 2 -0.220 4
7 GT 4 2 2 -0.580 4
8 RCB 5 1 4 -0.843 2
9 DC 4 1 3 -1.347 2
10 MI 3 0 3 -1.423 0